Ockham's razor

Ockham's razor
n.
OCCAM'S RAZOR

* * *

Methodological principle of parsimony in scientific explanation.

Traditionally attributed to William of Ockham, the principle prescribes that entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity. In practice, this means that if a phenomenon can be explained without assuming the existence of an entity, then philosophers and scientists should not assume the entity's existence. The history of science provides many examples of the principle's application (e.g., the rejection by scientists of the hypothesis of a luminiferous ether in response to Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity). See also materialism.

* * *

also spelled  Occam's razor,  also called  law of economy,  or  law of parsimony,  

      principle stated by William of Ockham (Ockham, William of) (1285–1347/49), a scholastic, that Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate; “Plurality should not be posited without necessity.” The principle gives precedence to simplicity; of two competing theories, the simplest explanation of an entity is to be preferred. The principle is also expressed “Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.”

      The principle was, in fact, invoked before Ockham by Durand de Saint-Pourçain (Durandus of Saint-Pourçain), a French Dominican theologian and philosopher of dubious orthodoxy, who used it to explain that abstraction is the apprehension of some real entity, such as an Aristotelian cognitive species, an active intellect, or a disposition, all of which he spurned as unnecessary. Likewise, in science, Nicole d'Oresme, a 14th-century French physicist, invoked the law of economy, as did Galileo later, in defending the simplest hypothesis of the heavens. Other later scientists stated similar simplifying laws and principles.

      Ockham, however, mentioned the principle so frequently and employed it so sharply that it was called “Ockham's razor.” He used it, for instance, to dispense with relations, which he held to be nothing distinct from their foundation in things; with efficient causality, which he tended to view merely as regular succession; with motion, which is merely the reappearance of a thing in a different place; with psychological powers distinct for each mode of sense; and with the presence of ideas in the mind of the Creator, which are merely the creatures themselves.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ockham's razor — n. OCCAM S RAZOR …   English World dictionary

  • Ockham's Razor — noun the principle that entities should not be multiplied needlessly; the simplest of two competing theories is to be preferred • Syn: ↑Occam s Razor, ↑principle of parsimony, ↑law of parsimony • Hypernyms: ↑principle, ↑rule * * * Ockham s razor… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Ockham's Razor — Wilhelm von Ockham Skizze aus einem Summa logicae Manuskript von 1341 mit der Inschrift frater Occham iste Ockhams Rasiermesser ist das Sparsamkeitsprinzip in der Wissenschaft. Es besagt, dass von mehreren Theorien, die den gleichen Sachverhalt… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ockham´s Razor — Wilhelm von Ockham Skizze aus einem Summa logicae Manuskript von 1341 mit der Inschrift frater Occham iste Ockhams Rasiermesser ist das Sparsamkeitsprinzip in der Wissenschaft. Es besagt, dass von mehreren Theorien, die den gleichen Sachverhalt… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ockham's razor — The celebrated principle of Ockham that entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem : entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity. A watchword for many reductionist and nominalistic philosophies …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Ockham's razor — variant of Occam s razor …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Ockham's razor. — See Occam s razor. * * * …   Universalium

  • Ockham’s razor —    See Occam’s razor …   Glossary of landform and geologic terms

  • Ockham's razor — noun variant spelling of Occam s razor …   English new terms dictionary

  • Ockham's razor. — See Occam s razor …   Useful english dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.